A Gandhara Frieze with Buddha and Acolytes, Kushan Period, ca. 2nd-3rd Century AD


Framed to one side by garlands, above by a roof decorated with a line of dog-tooth pattern, and below by a panel decorated with circles and curved lines, a robed Buddha carved in high relief, with head and shoulders turned slightly to the right,  wearing the heavy sanghati with cascading naturalistc folds he stands barefoot with his right hand raised in the abhaya mudra. The Buddha is flanked by smaller attendants, also robed in draped sanghatis, some with turbans and elaborate hairstyles, each gesturing with one hand.  Carved in high relief, they stand with their weight on the left leg, their right slightly bent leaning slightly forward out of the frame and towards the central Buddha, wearing the heavy sanghati with cascading naturalistc folds

Gandhara art, style of Buddhist visual art that developed in what is now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan between the 1st century BC and the 7th century AD. The style, of Greco-Roman origin, seems to have flourished largely during the Kushan dynasty and was contemporaneous with an important but dissimilar school of Kushan art at Mathura (Uttar Pradesh, India).  The Gandhara region had long been a crossroads of cultural influences and during the reign of the Indian emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC), the region became the scene of intensive Buddhist missionary activity. In the 1st century AD, rulers of the Kushan empire, which included Gandhara, maintained contacts with Rome. In its interpretation of Buddhist legends, the Gandhara school incorporated many motifs and techniques from Classical Roman art, including vine scrolls, cherubs bearing garlands, tritons, and centaurs. The basic iconography, however, remained Indian.

The materials used for Gandhara sculpture were green phyllite and gray-blue mica schist which in general, belong to an earlier phase, and stucco, which was used increasingly after the 3rd century AD. The sculptures were originally painted and gilded. The Gandhara school drew upon the anthropomorphic traditions of Roman religion and represented the Buddha with a youthful Apollo-like face, dressed in garments resembling those seen on Roman imperial statues. The Gandhara craftsmen made a lasting contribution to Buddhist art in their composition of the events of the Buddha’s life into set scenes.

Dimensions: height: 7 1/4 inches (18.4 cm), width: 10 1/4 inches (26 cm)

Condition: In good condition overall, presented on a museum quality custom mount.

Provenance:   Private Boston collection, acquired in the 1960's and then by descent.

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